Romans 13:1-7 says this:
" 1Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.2Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. 4For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. 6This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God's servants, who give their full time to governing. 7Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor."
I have been pondering these verses over and over again in my head and heart and through prayer because they are difficult for me to accept. First, I think it's easy for all of us to live in fear of a government, an earthquake, a disease-anything that has the ability to have power over us. But, like this verse talks about, it is God who has appointed the government. But wait. What about corrupt leaders and rulers that have treated their people poorly or have failed us in the faith they professed to have? Did God really appoint them too? We are reminded of the Exodus and of Pharaoh's rule. Scripture tells us that God "hardened Pharaoh's heart", thus controlling Pharaoh and the situation even though Pharaoh was not a follower of Yahweh. It was a horrible time for God's people, and the fact that God allowed Pharoah to be in control, and His people to suffer tells us something about God. Our idea of comfort, or in this case, the Israelite's is vastly different from God's. It does not always look the same, but it does not mean that God has left the scene.
What we do see is that God used that situation to bring destruction against the myth of those days (some of the ten plagues is a a metaphor against the gods and goddesses of that day; resulting in an establishment of power and sovereignty of Yahweh over any other gods of Egypt), brought people out of Egypt and into the promised land, setting up the precursor to the story of our Christian faith: we are in slavery, and are in the Exodus. We need a Savior to rescue us and we are on this earth, rescued, but headed towards the promised land. So it is here that we find comfort and the truth of this Romans' passage speaks loudly: Our kingdom is not set up by the authorities of this world. We are called to abide by it because it's a part of order that God has set up on this earth. Why? Because He has appointed the leaders, and whether they know it or not, we see it or not, we have to have faith that God is using it for what He sees fit.
This last part is especially hard to swallow, because sometimes what we see is fitting, is hardly what God sees as necessary to His plan. We know that the Israelites hated their time in slavery, and in the wilderness. In fact, they even doubted God after He had rescued them! But God knew that the event of the Exodus would speak louder than the mis-understood cries of His people. This is why it is repeated in Scripture when God is declaring His name "It is I who brought you out of Egypt." This Exodus became a part of God's name, Rescuer and Redeemer.
So what happens when the president that is appointed is one that we do not agree with? What if we feel oppressed by a tax plan, a health care incentive, abortion rights to name a few? Does this change our view of God because He appointed it? No. In fact, it should change the view we have of ourselves and of our country. God's plan and purpose is to redeem all things. Revelation talks about the new heaven and the new earth, a restoration of all things He has created. So whatever the tax plan, whatever the foreign policy, God's agenda is to restore a world that He created, and we don't have a better idea of how to do it because we did not create it.
I agree that we should be in deep prayer, but our prayers should be focused on a deep faith in God and in His plans for our lives, this earth, and His return. No matter how bad it gets, or how scary it can become, we ultimately do not answer to this world, nor will we stay here forever, and it's empires, including the ones that we belong to will one day cease to exist. That is something that we can praise God for, and pray for ourselves and others-that we would have the strength to stand, no matter what the situation, in the peace that God is in control over everything.
This does not mean, however, that we should not vote, nor does it mean that we should vote for whomever is "cool" or "compelling" or the "norm". It is hard for all of us to stop judging other Christians for the choice they are making when they vote. We are all flawed in our thinking, every one of us, and the best we can do is read the Word, and vote not with our interest in mind, but how we truly feel that God would be honored the best. We must pray for discernment of these things, but these answers are also found in Scripture: caring for the poor, widow and oppressed, truth, honesty, the fruits of the spirit, the ten commandments, the beattitudes....the list goes on. But we face trouble when we realize that not one candidate fits all of these. So we feel the need to play warrior and we often give voice to slander or ridicule, and we put our faith in one person and we end up hating the other. This is no better than loving both and making no choice. Because it shows us our abilities to have faith in man rather than God.
The same thing happens when we make our decisions based on fear. Its so easy to get afraid of someone and so then we vote the other way. When we do this, we are putting our trust in the safer candidate. We must ask ourselves, "Is either one safe? "Or are both in danger of falling?" If we take a close look at the world around us, and Scripture we are aware that ever since the fall, the world is getting worse. It's not getting better. Sure we may have advances in technology or medicine, but the world according to God's purposes are not getting any better. So our trust can not be in one candidate, as we are tempted to claim that one person will destroy a good world. Our world is full of good things, but it's already in process of being destroyed. It's part of the plan. Both candidates will play a role in God's plan. To vote because we are afraid of the terrorist attacks that may happen if we vote one way, or the poverty if we vote another, for example, we are saying that the other candidate has the power to save the world. Unfortunately, I think we have to realize that neither have this ability. Sure, they may make things a bit better, but better according to whom? Better according to God's purproses to restore things in His timing, in His way, and only He knows that path. Afraid that this really is the end of the world? Then let's get this ball rolling. Why are you so afraid? Finally, it all can end. If it is, then our vote is not going to stop it. Cause it's not ours to stop. We did not create this earth, nor will we decide when it ends. The One who began it is the only One who has a say over life and death.
We are a Church that sees the upcoming election as a time of doom and dark ages that the wrath of God will come upon us. For aborting babies, for homosexual marriage, for not taking care of the poor, for stealing people's money, for being in a war. We think that this decision, this term, will bring wrath on His people. First of all, we are hardly a Christian nation. So let's stop that thinking now. The United States of America has not been appointed by God as His elect, and to act like that is to play God, and place politics with Religion in the same Bible, resulting in theology that is at best questionable. Secondly, we need to wake up and notice that this world is passing away. Abortions and everything else that we have labeled Christian issues and decisions and have thus cast our vote based on a few key words, is our sign that that is our wrath. We have been given over to the desires of our hearts, to be a world that has allowed this to take place. To exchange the worship of God for a lie. (Romans 1:24) This already is His wrath.
In addition, it has the danger of labeling people as "Good Christians" and "Bad Christians", and drawing thick black and white lines of what makes someone responsible or irresponsible. We must have grace for one another in our decision making, enough so that we can hear people out and we can discuss and pray together. How awful if we as the Body get to the point that we can not pray for whomever is appointed?
Man, woman, republican, democrat, barack or mccain need our prayers. Just like I need them and just like the homeless guy on the corner does. Because in Christ, we are all on the same playing field. We all are in need of Savior. So my hope is that we realize that we are called to act responsibly and through the Word, praying and discerning what would God want, even if that we means we have to potentially give up what we want. My hope is also that we all learn that our prayers need to not end in the out cry for the right person to be in office, but that no matter who is appointed, we realize God's sovereignty. And finally, my hope is that we do not judge one another, causing division between Christians because of who we vote for, that we would realize that we have the blood of Christ bonding us together that is stronger than any checked box on a ballot.
It had to be said. Where is our faith?
If you can help it, realize that John Piper has his own opinions, and there is no need to get worked up and miss the point. The message of this is worth watching.